3rd Annual Aukiki River Festival

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on August 24, 2010 with No Comments

By Neal F. Litherland

Northwest Indiana is a place with a lot of history that stretches back a long way. For example, the famous escapades of John Dillinger – as put onto film in the movie “Public Enemies” which was partially filmed in Crown Point – the training and sacrifices made by the Union soldiers during the Civil War, or even further back to the exploration of the fur trappers and the lives of the Native Americans. While one could find books in the local history sections of the library, the Aukiki River Festival will be breathing life into the dust of the past and bringing those who attend something a little bit more interesting to see.

“We’ve got a lot of different things for people to come and see at this year’s festival,” John Hodson, a representative of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, said. “There will be re-enactors, encampments, entertainment and food.”

The festival, which is being held from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Aug. 28, is a celebration of the history of the area along the Grand Kankakee River. The festival will open up with a parade that will feature all of the re-enactors who will be putting on shows. Once you get into the actual festival, attendees will be able to start walking down the living timeline being put on display.

Porter County Sheriff David Lain will be in attendance in the section of the festival dedicated to the 1930’s, and he will have a piece of history – the Tommy gun that originally belonged to John Dillinger – in his custody. Along with the Sheriff will be Jim Lambert and his 1934 issued Ford which was featured in the movie “Public Enemies.” As you keep going back in time you will come across the steam engine exhibition that is being run by Bill Paulus, explaining the latest and greatest technology of the steam era.

Going back even further in time you will find a full encampment of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. This encampment is set up as a recruiting station, bringing the feel and the authenticity of the time to people who are curious about the war between the states. For those who want to go further back in time however, there is the Kankakee Alliance French Voyager encampment and a Native American encampment.

The French Voyager will have an authentic ship and campsite set up, along with authentic tools. The Native Americans encampment, run by Cindy Deardorff and Judy Judge, will be doing something similar, recreating a small community that you might find along the banks of the Kankakee River in the distant past.

“We’ve got a lot of demonstrations planned throughout the day as well,” Hodson said. “There will be live, black powder firing demonstrations, knife and tomahawk throwing, as well as musical demonstrations from a variety of the periods represented.”

In addition to the more dangerous demonstrations, there are a number of other events that will be going on at the Aukiki River Festival. There will be kid’s crafts, live blacksmithing, archaeological demonstrations and other crafts such as basket weaving throughout the day for those who attend.

“This is the third year that we’ve put this festival together, and we’re hoping that it does as well as the other ones,” Hodson said. “The first year we did this festival we had only a little more than 700 people, and last year we had nearly 2,000 attendees.”

The Aukiki River Festival will be held at 1099 Baum’s Bridge Road in Kouts. Admission to the festival is free, but donations are accepted. The benefit is hosted by the Kankakee Valley Historical Society for restoration of the historic Collier Lodge. For more information and directions, visit www.kankakeevalleyhistoricalsociety.org or call John Hodson at 219-766-2302.

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal: neal@thechroniclenwi.com.

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